Winter arrives…

Judith and I returned home last Monday to find about a foot/30cm of snow on the ground.  This wasn’t unexpected, as the Swiss forecasts are generally correct.  (I think this might be something to do with being in the centre of western Europe where things might be more predictable – certainly than the UK).  The temperatures for the rest of the week have also been quite low, so the valley has continued to look like winter and the usual birds have been flocking to our feeders.

So I thought I might share a few pictures taken over the past week which, depending upon your viewpoint, might just make you feel cold or get you into the Christmasy spirit!

Basel (Part 2 of 2) – Beyeler Foundation

We obviously couldn’t go to Basel just for the football… So, for a bit of culture, we decided to visit the Beyeler Foundation to see an exhibition of paintings by Paul Klee (1879-1940).  For more information please read here, but Klee was a prolific painter, producing a total of 9,800 works.  The exhibition called “The Abstract Dimension” had ‘only’ 110.  I was particularly impressed by his use of colour and various shapes, including letters, in many of his pictures.  It was as if there was some sort of puzzle or cryptic message which needed to be unravelled.  Even in the small sample shown below, you can see the huge variety of styles that he used.

In the other half of the building, the Foundation was also showing some works by such famous artists as Warhol, Lichtenstein, Cézanne, van Gogh, Degas, Magritte, Miro and Picasso to name but a few!   There was also what can only be described as a chair (by Marina Abramovic), with the instructions: “Sit in the chair facing the work of art. Depart.  Duration: Limitless”  So, for a short while, I think I might have been part of the exhibition.  🙂 (See pic 18).

Note: The Latter collection is being shown until January 1st 2018, while the Klee exhibition runs to January 21st 2018.

All of the pictures below are by Paul Klee unless otherwise stated in the title.  Never let it be said that I don’t bring you a variety of topics! 🙂

Basel trip (part 1 of 2)

As soon as Judith and I had unpacked our bags after our UK trip, we were packing them again to go to Basel.  The reason?  A football (soccer) World Cup play-off match between Switzerland and Northern Ireland.

As soon as I realised that the Swiss might be playing either Eire or Northern Ireland in the play-offs, I vowed to try and get a ticket if they were drawn together.  Even though all the tickets were sold within 2 hours of going on sale, I managed to get one (Judith hates football), but it was right up in the top corner of the stand.

Now, I’m not Irish, nor Swiss, so it was just a case of saying “I was there”!  In a way I couldn’t lose as, on the one hand, another British team might go through, while on the other, it would mean that my ‘home’ country would be covering the Finals next year…

Despite the game ending in a goal-less draw, it was very entertaining.  It also meant that the Swiss went through, thanks to their controversial penalty in the first leg.  (Hopefully video reviews will be brought into footbally very soon).

I don’t have any pictures of the actual match I’m afraid, as I only had my (very old) mobile phone with me, but I did get a few city shots the following day.

Caldon Canal Walk from Cheddleton

Following on from my post yesterday…  I was pleasantly surprised to find out that our accommodation in Cheddleton was within 50 yards of one pub (The Black Lion) and 150 yards from another (The Red Lion) and also very near to a working, narrow boat canal.  (This was after we’d booked it, I might add).

Blue skies were forecast for last Wednesday, so I opted out of some retail therapy and decided to go for a 5 mile walk along the tow path (and 5 miles back again).   Now, I’ve often thought of canals as quite boring places – being flat and, well, all very similar.  But I couldn’t have been more wrong…  Amongst the many interesting things that I saw, apart from some perfect autumn scenery, were a field full of (about 150) Canada Geese, probably refuelling before heading further south for the winter and a Kingfisher, which I was extremely pleased to photograph, albeit from 20 yards away, (see pic 13).

Not only that but I met a lovely couple, called Sue and Derek, who told me that they had sold their house to buy a boat, so that they could spend the rest of their days cruising the canal network.  That’s what I call adopting a more relaxing way of life!

The Roaches, Peak District National Park, England

Judith and I spent last week visiting our families back in the UK.  We stayed in a small village called Cheddleton, which is only a few miles south of the market town of Leek, in Staffordshire.  A little further north is an area called The Roaches, which is extremely popular with both walkers and climbers, due the amazing gritstone rock formations.   It’s a place I’d never been, so we decided to explore…

Walk to Lac d’Arbey

The male ‘half’ of the Preece family were keen to repeat their walk of last year, along the ‘Exhibition’ path to Lac d’Arbey, so off we went…  At least this time we had no ‘glowing’ images (which I think must be down to the angle of the sun and my camera recognising the ‘back lighting’ and so taking 3 pictures, which obviously don’t get merged together correctly).

As I’ve posted many images of this walk before, I’ve tried to pick out something different and concentrate more on those pictures around Lac d’Arbey, which looked magnificent in the Autumn sunshine.

La Forclaz Walk revisited

The Preece family are back – and, again, they are all of a glow!  Long time followers may remember that last year, my camera had a slight aberration where Jo and Oliver had a sort of glow or ‘halo’ effect on one of my pictures.  Well, it had never happened before and it hasn’t happened since, but today it happened again, (see pics 11 and 13).  I’m not sure what caused it, but I am beginning to wonder whether they are radioactive! 🙂

After following the path up to La Forclaz from Les Haudères, David, Rosie and Oliver took the direct route back, while Alex and I took the path back home via La Sage.

Alpage de l’Etoile (Walk 17) via La Niva

Another blue sky day, another walk… 🙂  And, again, a walk that I’ve not done for two years, the last time being in August 2015.  But this time, I decided to extend it slightly by going via the Mayens de la Niva, which is a small cluster of wooden chalets, perched part way up the slope opposite our chalet.  Summer and holiday residents have long gone, so it was an extremely peaceful place to take in the maginificent views across the valley, which included a peek at the Matterhorn, (see pic 14).

However, before you all hop on a plane or train to take advantage of this beautiful weather, be warned that we have snow forecast for tomorrow and/or Monday, but things do brighten up again after that! 🙂

Route de la Fornéije (Evolène) Flora and Fauna

I mentioned in my previous post that there were still a few alpine flowers and butterflies around in the Val d’Hérens.  Indeed, on my way back from the shops, I noticed quite a surprising variety by the side of the road up to our chalet.  So I decided to take a wander and capture as many as I could before they all disappear until next year…

I’ve done my best to identify each one of them, but I cannot be sure about some.

Pointe du Tsaté Walk

It’s almost 2 years since I did this walk – up to the Pointe du Tsaté at 3,078 metres (or 10,078 ft) from La Forclaz (VS) at around 1800 metres (or 5,900 feet).  The last time, I had to negotiate some early season snow towards the top, but not on Sunday… Indeed, dehydration and sunburn were more of a concern under the blazing sun!  The 360 degree view from the top is simply amazing (even I had a little ‘wow’ moment to myself as I crested the ridge), with more peaks than I could name on the horizon and the impossibly blue Lac de Moiry way down below in the adjoining valley. (See pic 10).

As Sarah, Karl and I set off from the top, we noticed some parascenders preparing to take off, so I paused to take some pics…  The conditions must have been ideal, as they soon soared, effortlessly, high up into the air.  There were also a few flowers and one or two butterflies, still clinging on to the last of this Indian summer.